Landmark Settlement Illustrates the Dangers of Birth Outside Fully Equipped Hospitals

In a settlement approved at the High court this morning our client received a lump sum of over £4.3 million and annual payments of £210,000 per annum from age 19 for life. 

Women are currently routinely told that for most women, giving birth in stand alone midwifery units or at home is as safe as a traditional labour ward in a fully equipped hospital

This case however was a lesson in the dangers of the less formal care that women are being encouraged to rely on outside the hospital labour ward.

EGW was born on 6th August 2003 at a maternity unit staffed only by midwives. The unit was about 40 minutes drive from the nearest hospital equipped to deal with complications for mother or baby arising during or after delivery.

After birth, EGW suffered respiratory complications. In the midwife led unit this was not recognised quickly enough and an ambulance was not called until the baby suffered a major collapse and cardiac arrest. She suffered brain damage as a result. Liability was admitted before court proceedings were commenced. 

EGW is now 12 years old and has cerebral palsy with severe physical disability but a largely preserved mental ability and life expectancy. 

Under new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) birthcare guidelines thousands more babies could be born without doctors being present..
Several consultant-led units have been closed and replaced with units run by midwives. 
Linda Levison, head of Clinical Negligence at Pattinson and Brewer, stated, ”If the baby had been born in a fully equipped hospital, she would probably now have little or no disability.  Mothers should have the opportunity to make informed choices.  They should be made aware that in the unlikely event of a serious complication, minutes can make all the difference between serious brain injury and an uninjured child.”

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